As most people....especially Melbournites...caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances in the world, found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and many other products. It is known for its ability to increase alertness and cognitive performance, making it a popular choice for those seeking to boost their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. However, caffeine also has its drawbacks. What I'm going to try to do here today is explore the pros and cons of caffeine intake for health and well-being from what the literature shows us! So, ironically, go grab yourself your beverage of choice and let's begin...
Caffeine can have both positive and negative effects on physical wellbeing. On the positive side, caffeine has been shown to increase metabolism and fat oxidation, making it a potential aid in weight loss efforts (1). Caffeine has also been found to improve athletic performance, with studies showing that it can increase endurance and reduce fatigue during exercise (2).
However, excessive caffeine intake can also have negative effects on physical wellbeing. Overconsumption of caffeine can lead to a range of side effects, including increased heart rate, anxiety, and insomnia (3). Caffeine has also been linked to gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux and stomach ulcers (4).
Caffeine is perhaps best known for its ability to increase alertness and cognitive performance. It works by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine, which is responsible for promoting sleep and suppressing arousal (5). By blocking adenosine, caffeine can increase feelings of wakefulness and improve mental performance.
In addition to its cognitive benefits, caffeine has also been found to have mood-enhancing effects. Studies have shown that caffeine can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression (6). However, these effects are typically short-lived and may be offset by the negative effects of caffeine on sleep and anxiety (7).
The impact of caffeine on emotional wellbeing is complex and can vary from person to person. In some individuals, caffeine can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress (8). In others, it may have a calming effect and improve emotional regulation (9).
One potential downside of caffeine intake for emotional wellbeing is its impact on sleep. Poor sleep quality has been linked to a range of negative emotional outcomes, including increased anxiety and depression (10). As caffeine can disrupt sleep, it may have a negative impact on emotional wellbeing in some individuals.
Caffeine is a popular substance that can have both positive and negative effects on health and wellbeing. When consumed in moderation, it can improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. However, excessive caffeine intake can lead to a range of negative side effects, including increased anxiety and poor sleep quality.
If you choose to consume caffeine, it is important to do so in moderation and be mindful of your body's response. Pay attention to how caffeine affects your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and adjust your intake accordingly. By taking a balanced and mindful approach to caffeine consumption, you can reap the benefits while minimizing the risks.
Let me know how you go and listen to what your body is telling you.
Dulloo, A. G., Duret, C., Rohrer, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., ... & Vandermander, J. (1999). Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(6), 1040-1045.
Ganio, M. S., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., & Maresh, C. M. (2009). Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1), 315-324.
Nawrot, P., Jordan, S., Eastwood, J., Rotstein, J., Hugenholtz, A., & Feeley, M. (2003). Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Additives and Contaminants, 20(1), 1-30.
Reyes‐Ortiz, C. A., Hernández‐González, M., Hernández‐Salazar, E., Martínez‐Barboza, N., & Núñez‐González, M. A. (2020). Gastrointestinal effects associated with caffeine consumption. Gastroenterology Research and Practice, 2020.
Fredholm, B. B., Battig, K., Holmen, J., Nehlig, A., & Zvartau, E. E. (1999). Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacological Reviews, 51(1), 83-133.
Lara, D. R., Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 20(S1), S239-S248.
Childs, E., & de Wit, H. (2008). Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology, 193(1), 81-89.
Lovallo, W. R., & Farag, N. H. (2013). Low‐dose caffeine discrimination and self‐reported mood effects. Psychopharmacology, 226(2), 251-257.
Nehlig, A. (2010). Is caffeine a cognitive enhancer? Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 20(S1), S85-S94.
Baglioni, C., Battagliese, G., Feige, B., Spiegelhalder, K., Nissen, C., Voderholzer, U., ... & Riemann, D. (2011). Insomnia as a predictor of depression: a meta-analytic evaluation of longitudinal epidemiological studies. Journal of Affective Disorders, 135(1-3), 10-19.